Treueschwur der USA: The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in German

A Familiar Statement That Makes a Great German Lesson

Children (8-9) reciting Pledge of Allegiance in class
Donna Day / Getty Images

One of the best ways to learn German is to use something that you're already familiar with. For German students in the United States, the Pledge of Allegiance is a great lesson that can be tailored to beginners and advanced students. 

The majority of American students grow up citing the Pledge of Allegiance (Der amerikanische Treueschwur). It's fixed in our memories from a very young age, so learning it in German can really help students understand and practice grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary in a single and recognizable sentence.

U.S. Pledge of Allegiance (Der Amerikanische Treueschwur)

In this instance, we use der Treueschwur for the English word and the "U.S. Pledge of Allegiance" translates to der amerikanische Treueschwur or Treueschwur der USA. Taking those famous words, "I pledge allegiance..." into German is a matter of finding the right vocabulary and placing it in the correct word order.

The Pledge can be an excellent lesson for students of all levels. Beginners can use it to practice German pronunciation and learn some new vocabulary while reciting it with the familiar cadence. Intermediate students can use it to study word order and proper German grammar. Advanced students can make their own attempts to translate the Pledge into German own, then compare it to the examples given.

Keep in mind that translation from one language to another is never perfect or word for word. As you can see in the two examples, different words can mean the same thing.

For instance, schwöre means "swear" and gelobe means "vow," but they're both used for the verb "pledge." Another example is the words jeden (each) and alle (all). They both can be used to mean "everyone," which is what the Pledge implies by "all."

It should be noted, however, that the first translation is the more widely accepted version of the two.

German translation 1:

„Ich schwöre Treue auf die Fahne der Vereingten Staaten von Amerika und die Republik, für die sie steht, eine Nation unter Gott, unteilbar, mit Freiheit und Gerechtigkeit für jeden.“

German translation 2:

„Ich gelobe Treue der Fahne der Vereingten Staaten von Amerika und der Republik, für die sie steht, eine Nation unter Gott, unteilbar, mit Freiheit und Gerechtigkeit für alle.“

The Pledge of Allegiance:

“ I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Who Wrote the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance?

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Baptist minister and socialist Francis Bellamy. It first appeared in The Youth's Companion magazine in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.

The original oath used the phrase “my flag” rather than “the flag of the United States of America.” The change was made in 1923. The next alteration occurred in 1954 when Congress inserted the phrase “under God.” It is interesting to note that, according to his granddaughter, Bellamy himself would have objected to this religious amendment.

Additionally, the author had originally wanted to include the word “equality” in front of “liberty and justice.” He reluctantly left that word out because he felt it controversial.

"Equality" did not seem right to him given the fact that women and African Americans were not considered equal by many people in 1892.